Honolulu Star Bulletin (05/24/97)
By Ray Pendleton
The Aloha Racing Team, sailing under the Waikiki Yacht Club's burgee, has put up its $200,000 entry fee and has been accepted as a challenger in the America's Cup sail-off in Auckland, New Zealand, slated for late 1999.
Aloha Racing will now be joining a fleet of 18 international challengers, including four others from the U.S., to determine who will face the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in a race for the world's oldest sporting trophy, the 145-year-old America's Cup.
Although Aloha Racing had announced it's intention to compete nearly a year ago, the question of attracting sufficient sponsorship funding delayed its official entry until just prior to the May 14 deadline last week.
Not surprisingly, along with its entry announcement came the news that the syndicate had signed on HEALTHSOUTH Corp. - the nation's largest rehabilitation provider and leader in sports medicine - as a corporate sponsor.
Founded in 1984, HEALTHSOUTH this year became the first healthcare company to have a presence in all 50 states.
It provides sports medicine coverage for hundreds of high school and college teams, 40 professional teams, the Ladies Professional Golf Association and USA Hockey.
With a nod to HEALTHSOUTH's participation, Aloha Racing's chairman Jim Bailey spoke of it as being a "healthy step" towards the goal of winning the cup and bringing it here to Hawai`i.
It is obviously not just a coincidence that HEALTHSOUTH's national medical director is orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jim Andrews, owner of the One Design 48 yacht Abracadabra, which he provides to the Aloha Racing as a team training platform.
With the team's skipper, four-time America's Cup veteran John Kolius at the helm, Abracadabra convincingly won her most recent race series against other America's Cup hopefuls in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference regatta in Miami Beach last March.
And nearly as important as the win was the fact that Aloha Racing was promoting Hawai`i as the best America's Cup sailing venue in the world.
"If the sport is to appeal to the masses," Kolius pointed out, "then we'd better have those events in exciting places - and the most exciting place has to be Hawai`i."
"We are poised to enter the next critical period of fund-raising, planning and training, in our quest to bring the America's Cup to Paradise," Bailey said.
"Sponsorship efforts are ongoing, with the possible focus on a health-related umbrella," Aloha Racing's marketing director DJ Cathcart added.
"HEALTHSOUTH's support at this level is a strong indication that this industry has begun to recognize sailing as a viable and underutilized tool to reach a valuable consumer audience, while creating a high measure of visibility in this media-entrenched event."
HEALTHSOUTH joins Aloha Racing's first corporate sponsor, Blue Star Line (North America). As Blue Star Line has the fastest and most frequent shipping service between North America and New Zealand, it will be entrusted with the team's more than 100 tons of yachts and related equipment.
Along with corporate sponsors, Aloha Racing is actively seeking individual memberships for their team. For donations of $250 up to $100,000, contributors will receive varying benefits of team clothing, travel packages, boat charters, cruise ship packages, island-wide discounts, island tours, team luaus and benefits in New Zealand. Or, for a mere $250,000 you could find yourself in the boat's 17th-man (observer) seat.
Those wanting more information should call DJ Cathcart at (714) 673-8696, or fax her at (714) 673-8314.
Hele on Back